Peter and the Columns Goes Live

In their debut short-film Peter and the Columns, co-directors Andrew Petersen and Max Buschini tell the story of Peter Hoffmeister going head-to-head for 3,000 feet against pro climber Hans Florine at a scrappy crag in Oregon. 

By Chris Van Leuven / Photos by Max Buschini

Sunday, September 13, Mariposa, California. Max Buschini is pacing back and forth across my living room floor. “I’m so excited I couldn’t sleep last night,” he tells me while visibly shaking. “I can’t wait to share this movie!” For weeks, he talked about the year-long film project he and co-director Andrew Petersen worked on called Peter and the Columns (feat. Hans Florine). To get footage, they traveled from the enormous walls in Yosemite to a short columnar basalt quarry in Eugene, Oregon. During filming, Buschini rappelled off the edge of El Capitan to shoot sections of the Nose, the wind tossing him around as his stomach turned from the exposure. He steadied his hand and captured Florine’s face in his lens, his subject deep in his element, focused, determined, and strong. 

Back in my living room, Buschini tells me he’s ready. His pacing stops, he logs into his Vimeo account and removes the password protecting his film. Then with a few clicks, he sends it out to climbing publications around the world telling them, “I’m making this free for one week only; feel free to share it with your readers.” The views poured in.

Max Buschini (left) and Andrew Peterson

“It’s been continuing to grow and it hasn’t stopped,” Buschini says four days after launching. “The video has been loaded 200,000 times and counting.” Using web tracking analytics, he can determine which hits come from UK Climbing, Rock and Ice and Climbing Magazine.  

Over coffee, Buschini fills me in on why he chose to give away his directorial debut, other projects he’s worked on, and what he has coming up.

Elevation Outdoors: If readers miss the free launch which runs September 14-19,  how can they see Peter and the Columns?

Max Buschini: Coming up next week, September 22-27, Yosemite Facelift: Act Local, will be showing my film via live streaming. Facelift is Yosemite’s biggest event of the year.  I live in the park—I rent Hans Florine’s basement in Yosemite West—and work closely with Facelift founder Ken Yager and artist in residence Dean Fidelman; I film them whenever they need help. 

I look forward to sharing my film with the Facelift audience. After that, I’ll submit it to film festivals, where I hope to get it picked up by a distributor. 

EO: Why should viewers watch Peter and the Columns (feat. Hans Florine)

MB: It’s a human interest story about going through hardships and dealing with tragedy and change. It’s more than a film about two climbers on the wall. Peter Hoffmeister and speed legend Hans Florine overcame severe injuries during the filming, with Hans breaking his ankles on a fall on the Nose and Peter recovering from a car accident. The film shows us that we can overcome hardships with the right mentality and come back even stronger. 

EO: How did this film come together?

MB: Co-director Andrew Petersen came up with the idea about these extraordinary human beings and brought me on as a co-director and director of photography. Once behind the lens capturing these athletes, I knew the project was perfect for establishing myself as a filmmaker.  

EO: Who wins the competition?

MB: You’ll have to watch the film to find out. 

EO: What other projects have you worked on?

MB: I’ve done cinematography for multiple climbing films, including with my mentor Samuel Crossley and his film Free As Can Be. My other mentor is Brett Lowell of Big Up Productions; he and I recently shot together for Reel Rock 15, which comes out next year. I’ve also made short videos and films for the Yosemite Climbing Museum.  

EO: What do you have coming up? 

MB: Next week, I’m releasing a short film for Yosemite Facelift about legendary climbing photographer Dean Fidelman and other key climbing photographers from Yosemite. 

You can watch all of Peter and the Columns right here:

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